Pueblo, CO

Xcel to build huge batteries to protect power grid from extreme weather

Matt Whittaker

A rendering of a Form Energy utility-scale battery system.Photo byScreenshot of image from Form's website

By Matt Whittaker / NewsBreak Denver

(Pueblo, Colo.) Xcel Energy plans to build a large battery storage system at the retiring coal-fired Comanche Generating Station in Pueblo, in a project that could come online as early as 2025.

Xcel, the largest utility in Colorado and the main natural gas and electricity provider for the Denver metro area, said Thursday it is partnering with energy storage company Form Energy to develop battery systems at the Pueblo plant as well as a retiring coal plant in Minnesota. 

The 10-megawatt battery systems will be able to store electricity for 100 hours, helping insulate the grid against weather variability, including severe winter storms and polar vortex events, the companies said.

“As we build more renewable energy into our systems, our partnership with Form Energy opens the door to significantly improve how we deliver carbon-free energy so that we can continue to provide reliable and affordable electric service to our customers well into the future,” Xcel CEO Bob Frenzel said.

As the nation transitions from generating electricity with fossil fuels to doing so with renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind, battery storage facilities will play a key role in keeping the grid operational during times of low wind and solar production.

On Twitter, the Denver-based Colorado Solar and Storage Association congratulated the two companies on the partnership, echoing Form CEO Mateo Jaramillo in saying the technology “will ensure [Xcel] customers benefit from reliable and cost-effective service year-round.”

The Comanche power plant will stop burning coal by 2030.

According to Environmental Protection Agency data, the plant is one of Colorado's biggest polluters, releasing 4.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2020. In recent years, it topped the list, releasing 9.3 million metric tons in 2018, but shutdowns have lowered its emissions.

Colorado legislation has set goals to lower the state’s 2025 emissions by at least 26 percent, 2030 emissions by at least 50 percent and 2050 emissions by at least 90 percent from 2005 levels.

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Matt Whittaker writes about natural resources industries, including oil and gas, mining, renewable energy, agriculture and cannabis. He's been based in the Denver metro area since 2013. You can follow him on Twitter @mattswhittaker.

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